Religious looking card, isn’t it? Judgment borrows predominantly Christian imagery to show the resurrection of the dead. An angel (Gabriel, according to post-biblical Christian tradition) blows a horn to literally wake up corpses.
I have no issue with that. But I regret that the horn pictured here isn’t a shofar—the ram’s horn that’s been part of Judaism since ancient times. Back me up if you’ve been to High Holy Day services: if any sound can wake the dead, it’s the shofar’s blast. (Besides, Gabriel would definitely use a shofar.*)
But are we really talking about a literal resurrection here? If you’re using this card for brainstorming plots or characters, is that what needs to happen in your story?
Well, you can go that route. Think of Dean Winchester in the opening of Supernatural‘s fourth season—you know, when he crawled out of his own grave. (Thank you, Castiel, for pulling him out of hell.) That’s a powerful scene in an overall meaty episode. But you’d have to be writing a very particular type of story for that to work for you!
For me, this card is more along the lines of Ezekiel’s vision of the Valley of the Dry Bones—which, okay, is probably the source of a lot of resurrection imagery. But stick with me here.
Ezekiel was a Jewish prophet during the Babylonian Exile. In his vision, he finds himself in a valley full of dry bones. God tells him that He can breathe life into these bones—that He can put sinews and flesh on them. It’s a magnificent passage but, in context, I don’t think it’s about physically raising the dead. I think it’s about bringing hope and a renewed sense of purpose to a defeated and despairing nation.
To the exiled Jews who first heard this vision—it must have struck them like the shofar’s blast. And that blast is really the point of this card.
No, you don’t need to bring a prophet into your story. But find something that blasts through whatever walls your character has built up, whatever anguish he’s suffering. A blast that casts everything he’s experienced in a new and transforming light. That, to me, is the essence of this card.
You might disagree—if so, I’d love to hear your interpretation! Leave a comment. Or, better yet, write your own meta or short story or poem on this card, and leave a link to it.
Meanwhile, we need a card for next week. I’m keeping this random (though I’ll discard repeats until we’ve gotten through the whole deck.) Okay, next week’s card will be the Five of Swords. Back to the Minor Arcana . . . the more every day stuff. Fewer angels and much less blasting, I’m afraid. But there is a good sword fight ahead!
*Okay, yes, I’m picturing Supernatural‘s Gabriel. But still!